To help color professionals grasp and grow their haircolor potential, MODERN SALON Media conducted a comprehensive, exclusive PROCESS HAIRCOLOR RESEARCH STUDY, surveying both consumers and salon professionals, in order to deliver the most complete information and current insights on professional haircolor available today.
The results are detailed in this special report and will also be presented by the MODERN SALON Media team in the coming months at events, workshops and meetings throughout the industry.
MODERN SALON Media's Process Haircolor Research Includes:
For the CONSUMER portion of the PROCESS HAIRCOLOR RESEARCH, MODERN SALON focused on a haircolor target audience of women age 18 or older, all of whom currently color their hair.
The sample was chosen to reﬂect the general population in terms of age and ethnicity. Respondents were further separated into two categories: consumers who receive professional hair color services in a salon and those who color their hair at home (box color).
WHY DO WOMEN COLOR THEIR HAIR?
Before delving into the differences between the two types of color consumers, consider what they have in common—the root reasons they do it.
Not surprisingly, the number one reason all women surveyed—home color consumers and salon clients combined—say they color their hair is to cover gray/look younger (46%), followed by a desire to look and feel more attractive, and the “need to make a change.”
Among younger color consumers age 18-34, the desire for “change” jumps to 59%. For women 35 and older, gray coverage becomes even more important, at 65%.
Almost one-third of all women surveyed said they ﬁrst colored their hair before age 18.
While not shocking, these findings do confirm opportunities for salons to customize and grow color business. (More on that ahead.)
MAKE MORE MONEY WITH COLOR
To earn more haircolor revenue from women who already color their hair, salons and colorists can do three things:
To accomplish the latter, you must understand why women color their hair at home in the first place.
WHO ARE YOU MISSING?
Why Consumers Don’t Get Their Color at the Salon
You know professional haircolor is a good investment (and less expensive than color correction), but the number-one reason cited by 77% of women who color their hair at home is “the cost is too high.” They also believe:
I can do color as well or better at home (28%)
Coloring my own hair gives me greater control (24%)
Doing it myself gives me great satisfaction (17%)
I don’t have the time to go to a salon (16%)
Can’t find a salon/colorist I like (14%)
They like it just ﬁne. Overall, they are pretty happy with the results of their own color work, with 97% saying they are mostly or completely satisfied. This is likely driven by “lower expectations” for their hair, and not being familiar with the impact of salon haircolor services.
They aren’t prone to visit salons, period. Women who are content to color their hair at home do not frequent the salon often for any services, with 37% rarely or never visiting a salon, and another 24% coming in only every nine weeks or longer between visits.
When home color consumers do go to the salon, it is usually for a professional cut (79%) or style (41%) and less frequently for nails, waxing, conditioning treatments, texture or other services.
Out of the Box, Into Your Chair
Even though home color consumers say they are happy with their box results, the highly profitable color correction business done in salons tells a different story, and is by far the greatest opportunity for colorists to convert those consumers to regular color clients.
According to MODERN’s survey of salon professionals who color hair:
HOOK AND HOLD
A hurdle to converting home-color rescues to regular clients is that color corrections are expensive to execute, due to complexity and time required. With “cost” being the home color consumer’s biggest objection to coloring in-salon, a colorist should be proactive in acknowledging the “one-time” expense to fi x the damage, and outline follow-up:
As noted, the most important reasons the average woman chooses to color her hair are: gray coverage, to look and feel more attractive, needing a change, needing a touch-up, etc. All things that give a skilled color professional a decided edge against “the box.”
Ultimately, consumers who choose salon hair color over home hair color realize the salon does a much better job (69%). Other key reasons are “good relationship with my stylist” (44%) and “doing it at home is too much of a hassle” (37%).
So, once a consumer has decided she prefers to be a salon color client, how and why does she choose one salon over the other? Or one colorist? Why does she leave salons or switch colorists?
WHY CLIENTS CHOOSE A SALON
When asked to select the most important factors when choosing a salon for color services, the group of salon color clients said “it all starts with you”—the salon pro!
WHAT YOUNGER CLIENTS WANT
For clients age 18-34, “Price” leapfrogs over “My Stylist” and is identified as their most important factor in choosing a salon. The cost of color matters greatly to this group, but don’t think they don’t care or invest deeply in professional color. Findings support they perceive color as a critical accessory—one they change often—so they are mindful of managing limited budgets to enjoy the color they want.
PROFESSIONALS’ PERCEPTION: WHY CLIENTS COME TO THEM
Salon professionals believe the quality and reputation, as well as referrals, are what drive clients to them and their salons for color services. When compared to what clients say they prioritize in choosing both a salon and colorist, both parties are on the same page when it comes to “quality of service/does a good job” and “price.” Colorists give too much credit to social/online reviews and referral programs, which only 5% of clients ranked as a driver.
CLIENT PREFERENCE: WHY STAY WITH A SPECIFIC COLORIST
According to color clients, the most important reason for patronizing a specific salon pro for color services is “they do a good job.” Relationship and history are also important, as is price. As with choosing a salon, 18-34 year olds are more likely to mention “value,” while those 35+ again prioritize their relationship and history with their colorist.
WHY CLIENTS LEAVE
When asked what would drive them to change their colorist or salon, clients on average reported “Poor Quality of Work” and “Price/Too Expensive” as by far the most compelling factors in both cases, with no other factors jumping out as significant.
However, when isolating responses from younger clients (age 18-34), they again put more emphasis on price/value and are more likely to mention their “business not being appreciated,” while those 35+ are more likely to give “my stylist moved to another salon” or another “relationship” change as the reason for shifting from one stylist/colorist to another. This further reinforces the takeaway that younger color clients are transactional. They seek out good value and may take advantage of deals or promos. They want to make every color dollar count, but not be taken for granted.
WHERE DO CLIENTS GO TO GET SALON COLOR?
MOST POPULAR COLOR SERVICES
Highlighting is still a star in the professional haircolor story, emerging in MODERN’s research as clients’ most typically received salon color service, at 62% of respondents.
Single-process color (42%) and retouch services (31%) followed as second and third, respectively, on clients’ list, with single-process services about 10% more likely for clients age 35+.
Younger clients (age 18-34) are significantly more likely than those 35+ to experience ombre (15% vs. 2%), glossing (13% vs. 2%) and fashion shades (10% vs. 4%).
WHAT PROMPTS A COLOR APPOINTMENT
Needs-based bookings: Nearly 60% of color clients said they seek color when their hair needs a touch-up, 46% when their hair needs an update and 40% when their budget permits.
Timing and marketing: Their schedule drove the decision for 35% of respondents, while specials/discounts influenced 8% and “a new trend” influenced only 6%.
Seasonal bookings: More than half (56%) of consumers polled said the seasons impact the timing of coloring their hair, with summer playing the largest role. Colorists recognize the importance of change to clients, with 64% indicating that the start of a new season impacts their business.
Special occasions: Although the conventional wisdom is that a client’s upcoming special occasion triggers a visit to her colorist, only 30% of our surveyed salon clients regarded special events as influencing the timing of a color appointment.
HOW OFTEN DO CLIENTS GO TO SALONS FOR COLOR?
The regulars: almost half of salon color clients say they come to the salon every six weeks or more often for services.
Opportunity to improve: 52% report stretching salon color visits longer than six weeks.
Average interval between salon visits: 7.5 weeks.
Younger clients stretch more: 18-34 year-old clients are more likely than those 35+ to go nine weeks or longer between color services (37% vs. 25%); they don’t have the “gray coverage” need to draw them back sooner, and are managing their budget. Bright spot: when they do come in, they usually spend more.
HOW MUCH DO CLIENTS PAY FOR COLOR?
The average price salon clients say they pay for any color service (on their typical visit) is $78; 20% pay less than $50, and 4% pay $140 or higher.
Younger clients spend MORE per visit: They come to the salon less frequently, but those age 18-34 say they spend $81 on average each time, or $5 more than those age 35+. Note: This makes sense, given this segment’s stronger demand for highlighting and trend-driven services. Salons can be optimistic that as these clients age and both their income and need for gray coverage increase, they will continue to spend at a higher level while also increasing frequency of visits.
The average price colorists say they charge for a single-process service: $67; 16% charge less than$50, and 3% charge $100 or higher. Note: Average client ticket covering all color services would be higher.
DO COLOR CLIENTS BUY RETAIL PRODUCTS?
Yes, clients buy products! But where?
COLOR RESULTS: HEALTHY HAIR MATTERS
When asked to rank what mattered most in color results, the “overall health of my hair” (30%) was the most important factor for clients, followed by “beautiful color” (23%) and “long-lasting color” (23%).
Age matters, too. Consistent with other responses related to value, clients age 18-34 are more concerned with “long lasting” color results and those age 35+ value “natural color” results more.
Professional perception gap. Colorists were off-target when asked what their clients valued most, with most respondents gauging that “maintaining color” was most important to their color clients, followed by health of the hair, performance and trends.
Opportunity. Discuss and promote color services, special brand offerings and color care retail that you prescribe to help “protect the integrity of the hair” and keep hair “healthy looking.”
THE CLIENT/COLORIST RELATIONSHIP: LOYALTY, INFLUENCE, TRUST AND COMMUNICATION
THE COLOR CONSULTATION (AND OTHER CONVERSATIONS YOU SHOULD BE HAVING)
MODERN’s research indicates that colorists understand the value of a full color consultation.
Colorists have an opportunity to retain clients, upsell services and recommend retail if they continue the conversation throughout the service and at the completion. We asked salon clients: Which of the following, if any, would you like your stylist to ask you?
WHO INFLUENCES COLOR?
By the consultation’s conclusion, stylists and clients each believe they’ve had the final say about the color decision, according to our research.
What colorists say: 75% of colorists named themselves and 56% named clients among the top three people or factors that influence the client’s color decision.
What clients say: Consumer research reversed the order, with 82% naming themselves and 61% naming their colorist.
Why the difference? This could be a communication gap, or perhaps it reflects colorists’ brilliance in being able to steer their clients toward a direction while making them feel that they’re in charge of the decision.
Are celebrities important? In estimating what else influences the look clients seek, colorists ranked “celebrity styles, other clients in the salon and advertising” all higher than those rankings in the consumer poll, which gave more credit to parents and family.
In fact, when asked why they color their hair at all, only 5% of consumers indicated they were inspired by a celebrity look.
Why the difference? Our professional respondents may have naturally drawn the conclusion that celebrities have a lot of influence because clients are always bringing in photos of celebs’ hair looks, often saved to their pinboard. For clients, this practice may be less about “influence” and more about using the images as a reference and communication tool. Colorists encourage this practice, because trying to “describe” a desired tone of blonde or define what a “cool red” looks like is not practical. Swatch books and look books help, but celeb pics are easy to relate to and readily available for the client to self-select (even though the transformations they choose are not always doable).
CELEBRITY COLOR: A WISH LIST
Clients may not want to “be” Jennifer Aniston or admit that their decision to color their hair is influenced by her and other celebs, but her dimensional honey tones far outranked (23%) any other famous locks when color clients were asked who they wish their haircolor could look more like.
COLOR BRANDS: CLIENTS TRUST YOUR JUDGMENT
The colorists who participated in MODERN SALON Media’s PROCESS Haircolor Research reflect the professional salon industry in being:
How important is color to their business?Salon professionals answering the survey say:
HAPPY WITH HAIRCOLOR According to MODERN SALON Media’s exclusive surveys:
COLOR & RENTAL
Performance Matters Most
The most important factor when a salon professional chooses a color brand is performance (76%). Consistency, a quality brand name (reputation) and educational support are also key drivers. How Many Brands Do Colorists Use?
Colorists typically take advantage of all of the color brands carried by the salon.
44% of colorists work regularly with two color brands
26% use only one
22% work with three brands at any given time
Colorﬂuency: A quarter of survey respondents report having used eight or more color brands over the course of their career.
What You Need From Them
When asked what they expect from color suppliers, most salon professionals mentioned education, followed closely by fair pricing. Most also assume quick shipments and customer support as key to their relationship with manufacturers and distributors.
Colorists at commission-based salons are more likely than renters to expect education in-person (72% vs. 59%). The tables turn, however, with online education, which is expected by 64% of renters vs. 50% of commission stylists/colorists.
Why You Change Color Brands
“It doesn’t work” or “I can’t count on it” are likely reasons a customer would drop any product, and haircolor is no exception.
Salon professionals cited “the color failed to perform” or was inconsistent as the most compelling reason by far (80%) to change color brands, followed by “the color became too expensive.” Lack of availability, lack of education and lack of support—along with the product being too difficult to use—were also noted by more than one-third of respondents. Interest in “new color technology” would tempt 45% to switch.
Where to Buy Color
When asked from which sources they buy color, most salon owners and renters who purchase haircolor say they do so from a professional distributor store (68%) or directly from a sales consultant (51%). Another 14% report purchasing directly from a manufacturer; 8% from an OTC (over-the-counter) store.
THE BONDING PHENOMENON
An add-on, preparatory service many colorists have been introducing to clients in increasing numbers over the past year is “bonding,” a rapidly growing category of color additives designed to protect the integrity of the hair. The category has been called a “game changer” by colorists throughout the world and was pioneered by Olaplex. Awareness, for a new product, is exceptionally strong. As typically happens with any successful introduction, other brands are entering the space.
64% of our surveyed colorists said they used treatments formulated to crosslink broken bonds and eliminate breakage due to chemical services, with nearly a third of those using the treatment with a majority of color services.
86% of the colorists who offer bonding as an option did so with a fee, with a higher percentage of commission stylists charging (94%) than renters (74%). There’s also a retail component.
Of the respondents who were not using this type of treatment, half indicated they were not familiar with these types of products. MODERN asked colorists who were using treatments that crosslink broken bonds and eliminate breakage whether their clients were more satisfied, if they were able to charge more, if they could perform more extreme services, etc., and feedback was very positive.
Root of a Communication Problem
Most salon professionals (64%) say they recommend a “root cover-up” between color appointments, as either a service or retail item, but 74% of color clients say they have either never received or used one, or are unsure.
The retail option in particular may be effective in helping some clients bridge the time required to be comfortable (affording) to come back to you, versus finding a less expensive salon or succumbing to box color. Either way, be clear in what you offer and how it is priced.
As noted, two-thirds of salon professionals who perform haircolor services expect their color partners—manufacturers and distributors—to provide education support “in-person,” and 56% expect to get color education online, too.
Where else do colorists turn (and whom do they trust) for color education? In what specific areas do colorists need support? With what other resources can colorists connect?
WHERE COLORISTS NEED HELP
Color correction is by far the aspect of color education our polled stylists said presents the greatest struggle, noted by more than one-third (35%). They also identified “undertones/stages of lightening” (16%), application techniques (15%) gray coverage (15%) and formulation (14%) to round out their top five areas of concern.
SWATCH BOOKS: AN IMPORTANT TOOL
To pinpoint a client’s color taste, many surveyed colorists indicated that they rely on swatch books, with 43% saying they reference swatch books multiple times each day and 75% saying that they reference them at least once a week. Younger colorists—those under age 35—were more likely than their more experienced peers to grab swatches.
WHAT MORE COULD COLORISTS WANT?
When asked what types of additional color resources—above and beyond what they are currently receiving or investing in—would be most valuable, the overwhelming request was for more classes (66%) and more how-tos/formulas (61%). Also notable:
COLOR RECAP: Key Takeaways and Opportunities
Today’s professional “color story” is a detailed one, primed for further discussion, and rich with opportunity. On behalf of all the special PROCESS 2015 program sponsors (you can meet them
all in “Partners in Color” on page 82), we congratulate you for seeking deeper insights into your color business. Next steps are to identify the key questions and opportunities that apply to your salon and situation, and craft a strategy of actions on how and where to grow next. Here are a few final thoughts and recaps aimed to help you do so:
Last but not least, please stay in touch. Visit modernsalon.com and modernsalon.com/PROCESS for the latest professional haircolor information, tips and resources, and special updates from our PROCESS sponsors.
THANK YOU PROCESS PROGRAM SPONSORS: Aloxxi, Aveda, Color Wow, Farouk, GKhair, Goldwell, Joico, Kenra, Keratin Complex, Keune, Malibu C, Matrix, Olaplex, Redken, Rusk, Schwarzkopf, SureTint, TIGI and Wella